One of the most fundamental academic competencies children
are expected to master in early childhood is reading. In many ways, this is
what sets the stage for more the more formal learning process and contributes
greatly to one's success in the classroom. However, while many children are
able to master basic reading skills, it is not uncommon that this remains a
mechanical practice rather than one that is done for pleasure or for the love
of it. Many children read very little, in fact. While they may complete their
school work (and may even do well many times), reading is all too often limited
to technical or school related tasks and not done outside of that context.
To be fair, in the last few years more teenagers and young
adolescents, and even tweeners, have been more akin to reading what with the
popularity of stories like the Twilight trilogy, The Diary of a Wimpy Kid and
of course, the phenomenal Harry Potter series. It does help, too, that these
stories have a wide movie franchise behind it that does peak the interest of
many readers. For younger readers, characters from popular television shows
such as Blues Clues and the like have also become quite abundant.
However, in the absence of such enticements, the question to
be asked is how do we get our kids to become interested in reading for fun and
not just because it is assigned by a teacher? Further, how can we encourage
them to read the types of stories we read as children ourselves? I do laud
those teachers who are able to make sure their students not only read but
actually like the act of reading in itself, but as parents, we can also take
part in fostering a love for reading.
What I have come to recognize on a personal level that to
develop a skill or build up on something, there must be constant practice or
exposure. This is definitely true for reading. Establishing a supportive
reading environment is essential. With consistent and regular reading periods
with your child, such as during bedtime, can help them see that reading is a
pleasurable act. Over time, you can encourage your child to read along rather
than just be read to.
Another way of cultivating a reading this reading
environment is by taking trips to the local library. This is a wonderful
alternative to visits to the mall. Not only does it cost nothing, your child
--- and even you --- have everything to gain!
It is also important to remember that building a love for
reading should be a fine balance between challenge and comfort. What I mean
with this is that to encourage a child to read more, it should neither be too
hard nor too easy. Making sure that the storybooks (or novels for older kids)
are not just age-appropriate but also skill-appropriate is essential.
Lastly, tapping into your childs interests can make them
want to read further. For example, if your sons interest is on dinosaurs or
airplanes, get him books on those topics or with those characters. Whether it
is a fictional story or a facts and figures book, this will surely engage him
As an end note, I am a firm believe that teaching reading
should not be limited to the schools and as something to be delegated to the
teachers. We, too, must take part in raising a reader. Oh…and let’s not forget:
children do imitate what they see, so maybe we too should find more time to
read! Happy reading!!!
Labels: Education, Parenting